A person's lymphatic system can become disrupted for many reasons, causing tissues in his or her arms, legs or trunk to become swollen, thick and painful. This condition is called Lymphedema, and if left untreated it can lead to more complicated medical problems. While there's no cure for lymphedema, the physical and occupational therapists at Hendricks Regional Health are experts at helping our patients manage it and continue to live productive lives.
What Causes Lymphedema?
Anything that damages the lymph nodes or lymph vessels can cause lymphedema. Although it's rare, some people genetically inherit the condition, either having it present itself in infancy or later in life. People living in tropical, subtropical and developing countries sometimes acquire Lymphedema through an infection of the lymph nodes. However, in the United States, Lymphedema is often a side result of cancer itself or cancer treatments such as surgery or radiation.
The lymphatic system circulates lymph fluid throughout your body to collect, neutralize and flush out bacteria, viruses and waste products. Because the lymphatic system does not have a pump like the circulatory system, when a portion of it becomes damaged, this protein-rich lymph fluid backs up in the muscle and causes swelling.
How We Treat Lymphedema
If you are diagnosed with Lymphedema, it's important that you see a certified specialist such as one of the physical therapists at Hendricks Regional Health to help you manage the condition. There are four main ways our physical therapists treat Lymphedema:
Proper Skin Care
Our physical therapists teach our patients to properly care for their skin since their skin is their primary defense against infections.
Special Exercise Routines
To help the lymphatic system move fluid away from the affected areas, our physical therapists teach patients special exercises they can do at home. This may even include evaluating sleeping posture, as well.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage
This is a special hands-on therapeutic massage technique that our physical therapists perform on patients that moves fluid away from congested or impaired areas, so it can drain properly.
Our physical therapists also help patients manage their Lymphedema by selecting the right compression garments to wear to aide in moving the lymph fluid.
Physical Therapy at Hendricks
The physical therapists at Hendricks Regional Health are specially trained in lymphedema intervention. Not only are they skilled in manual lymphatic drainage, but also in patient education and in Lymphedema monitoring techniques. Prior to and following surgeries and other medical treatments, they measure patients that are at risk for Lymphedema. If there is a change in the size of their limbs or trunk, they can detect the swelling early and immediately address it. Hendricks Regional Health offers lymphedema care at our Danville and Avon campuses.
Hendricks Regional Health includes a multi-specialty hospital with physical and occupational therapy services. For lymphedema care and other therapy programs, a physician referral is not required. To schedule your evaluation, call (317) 495-9995.